Building brand strength has long been a key priority for CMOs. It has been even more relevant over the past 18 months as customers have gravitated to brands they feel they can trust.

The answer to the question of what drives brand strength comes to us in the latest research from BrandZ. They identified four “growth pillars” that are key to creating meaningful brand differentiation:

1) Creative communication – unique, creative content helps brands differentiate. They cite GoCompare, Churchill and Lloyds Bank as stand out examples.

2) Meaningful innovation – the word “meaningful” is key here. This is not innovation for innovation’s sake but innovation that is valuable for target customers. Dyson and BrewDog are mentioned here.

3) Social responsibility – this is growing in importance. It is three times more important than it was 10 years ago but does not represent more than 10% of a brand’s equity (unless you are a brand like Patagonia). Retailers such as Boohoo and Asos have been called out for their sourcing practices and are having to invest to mitigate the negative impact on their brand.

4) Customer experience – this is about delivering a loyalty-generating experience along the important customer journeys. Delivery of a great customer experience is the most important driver of brand differentiation and in the words of Tesco CEO, Ken Murphy: “… greater than 80% of brand perception is driven from the store experience or the online experience, rather than any marketing communications”.

Growing the strength of your brand through CX

What does this mean for CMOs who are charged with protecting and growing the strength of their brands? The most obvious answer is that marketing needs to make CX a key part of its mission. The challenge: it is still an amateur sport in many organisations.

There is a body of CX knowledge and best practice, in the same way that finance, marketing and IT have an expert body of knowledge. The CX body includes frameworks, tools and protocols that save time, enhance implementation rigour and flag the pitfalls to avoid. Few people – however good they may be as CMOs, COOs, Strategy Directors or Transformation Leaders – are familiar with this body of knowledge (they don’t know what they don’t know) nor do they have first-hand experience of implementing step-changing customer experience programmes. As a result, they take too long and under-deliver in their attempt to transform their organisation’s customer experience.

But experience matters. Creative communication, innovation and social responsibility will only get you so far. CX is crucial to the marketing mix to make your business stand out in a meaningful way. So, my advice to CMOs intent on growing the strength of their brand:

“Find and work hand in glove with the best CX talent you can – which will most likely come from outside your company”

As a CMO how are you making your brand stronger? Are you working with the best CX talent to deliver the meaningful difference your customers are looking for?

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